I have noticed that internet traffic tends to be much lower on weekends: there are generally fewer emails and uploads such that weekend uploads have fewer viewers if at all, which might explain that my last letters had attracted very few readers, but that’s neither here nor there. In an age where people rely heavily on smart phones and instant feedback, sometimes it feels like the social networks run people’s life and one can’t go very far if one doesn’t run a smart phone or operate WhatsApp. So it is no different even in Whistler where Wi-Fi is everywhere and free, certainly in the major restaurants on the mountains and in the village. We decided not to carry our conventional cameras and lens on this trip except the tiny Canon Power Shot S 90, relying on our phones for the breath taking shots and their uploads.
We are actually winding down Part One of our skiing holiday for the year. In two or three days, we would leave Whistler and come back. It never seriously snowed while we were here. The first snow we experienced came on 1 February, but the duration was so short that by early afternoon, most precipitation had melted or became icy. It snowed a bit in the alpine zone in the next two days, but it was so foggy in most areas and the snow too icy in places that we were like snow chasers. Nevertheless, we had some good sessions with Jim who became our de facto private tutor during this period. By way of illustration at the economic level, a private lesson costs Canadian Dollars 749 while we are paying only about 60 Canadian Dollars each for each lesson under our lesson pass scheme, which is extremely good value from our end. Besides, having an instructor who knows us personally and is sympathetic to our skill level is such a huge bonus. Jim became more than an instructor. Here, I would not labour on how the job allocation works at the Snow School; suffice it to say that it is complicated. Our objectives being safety and having a good time, we believe we are getting great value in Jim. He had taken us to places we had never been to and he was as surprised and pleased as we were with the outcomes.
Already, we were having discussions on the summer programs at Whistle comprising mountain biking, hiking, golfing and more eating, drinking and sleeping.
Notwithstanding the snow condition being what it is, holiday skiers are still arriving with hope for more snow and perhaps they are on scheduled holidays anyway. We met today for example a huge group of campers who were here for a four-day camp. They were on a program run by a local university and they comprised skiers and snow boarders, all young and enthusiastic ready to explore what the mountains and snow could offer for character building, adventures and experiences.
I certainly have become much more comfortable on the slopes now compared with what I was three years ago when I first came to Whistler as a perfect novice. Whistler certainly has a lot to offer, but first, one has to be prepared to ski or to learn to ski. I mentioned the Crystal Hut in my last letter, which can be accessed only if you can ski. Similarly, some of the staff at Crystal Hut and possibly at other eateries on the mountains is required to be able to ski to hold their jobs, as I have learnt while here, thus further reinforcing the link between eating and skiing.
But eating is so important, as is sleeping in Whistler. I have found that eating, sleeping and skiing are inseparable if one has to have a good time in Whistler.
Today, for example, we found that there are more people at Round House at lunchtime than we saw on the slopes. Round House houses a number of restaurants on the Whistler Mountain side and to start with the building is not round. The restaurants there offer wholesome meals to skiers and non skier alike and the staff is very well trained to make visitors and tired skiers welcome and feel good. On the Blackcomb Mountain side, there is the Rendezvous which houses welcoming eateries and other facilities for skiers and non skiers. In general, one finds that the Rendezvous attracts more visitors than the Round House by virtue of the transport links, but that again is neither here or there. Both are equally attractive by virtue of their locations and with the Peak-2-Peak linking them so efficiently, they are no different for the average skier or visitor.
But our main eating episodes were self created, with ingredients supplied in Whistler, mainly the Market Place and the Grocery Store. Between them, they offer sufficient choices for many recipes of western and Asian descriptions; and indeed the problem is finding time to savour them all.
In between eating and skiing, sleeping is vital as I have stressed so often. We have always slept for ten hours a day, and often more, which is a luxury back home. Skiing typically finishes each day around 3 to 4 pm and after the obligatory shower and drinks afterwards, the body is ready to close down for a period which can range from 30 minutes to a few hours. Dinner, including planning, preparation and consumption can be flexible but rarely takes longer than three hours. Sleeping would then take over until the next morning when the body is geared up for a full and wholesome breakfast that would last till the close of the skiing for the day, supplemented by a light lunch. Thus, on an average day, we would spend five hours skiing, four hours eating, 12 hours sleeping, with three hours for other activities which could include eating and sleeping too, and planning for skiing activities.
Today being the fourth of February marks the arrival of Spring and heralds the beginning of a new Lunar New Year or the Year of the Lamb. The lamb is an emblem for kindness, tameness and harmony. I wish all of you out there a harmonious and happy year ahead and that you would bestow your kindness generously and magnanimously to all people you may come across.
Talk to you soon, I hope.